The state of Texas is expanding vaccination eligibility to people 50 to 64 years of age, starting on Monday, the state health department announced Wednesday.
Newly eligible Denton County residents can be added to the COVID-19 vaccine waitlist at dentoncounty.gov/COVID19vaccine.
“After receiving notification from the state of the Phase 1C priority group for those 50 years of age and above, we immediately worked to open our Vaccine Interest Portal to accept those individuals on our waitlist,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said. “We want to make sure eligible individuals have access to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as we all work together on a path to ending this pandemic.”
Eligible individuals are encouraged to join Denton County Public Health’s Vaccine Interest Portal as well as check with their primary care providers and/or pharmacies, as vaccines are distributed to multiple providers throughout the county, DCPH said in a news release Wednesday night. All DCPH mass vaccination clinics are appointment only, and those without appointments will not be vaccinated. Weekly vaccine updates are emailed on Friday afternoons to those on the DCPH Vaccine Interest Portal Waitlist who have yet to be invited.
More than 93% of the Texas fatalities directly caused by the coronavirus have been in people 50 and older, with those ages 50-64 accounting for 20% of all fatalities, according to the news release from Texas Department of State Health Services.
“We’ve seen a remarkable decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths since people 65 and older started becoming fully vaccinated in January,” said Imelda Garcia, DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and chair of the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel. “Expanding to ages 50 to 64 will continue the state’s priorities of protecting those at the greatest risk of severe outcomes and preserving the state’s health care system.”
More than half of all Texas seniors have gotten at least one dose of vaccine, and 30% are now fully vaccinated, according to DSHS. The number of COVID-19 positive patients in Texas hospitals has fallen by two-thirds from its peak in mid-January. There are about 5 million Texans between the ages of 50 and 64; more than 1 million of them are already vaccinated.
The state’s COVID-19 vaccination program began with Phase 1A in December with health care workers and long-term care facility residents and staff. Later that month, Phase 1B began to vaccinate people 65 and older and others with medical conditions that put them at a greater hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Texas last week added school and child care workers to the eligible population following a directive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
More information on the new 1C priority group is available here. The Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel will continue to meet and make recommendations about the further allocation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, more than 7 million doses have been administered in Texas. About 4.7 million people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 2.5 million are fully vaccinated.